The End of an Era

Last night I watched my boys take the court together, their last time on the same team. Twelve years ago my sons—one just turned 4, one not quite 6—stepped on a soccer field together, the younger having begged to get to play like his brother and his sister. From that first moment, the younger son didn’t miss a beat. He got in there and played as well as the older kids. And the older one, from the first, didn’t dismiss his younger brother. He took care of him, encouraged him, included him.
Fast forward to middle school. They had each played on their own soccer and basketball teams, but then soccer ended and for one season—younger brother in 6th grade, older in 8th grade—they both wore their school football uniform. Although neither played much, I loved seeing them on the sidelines together.
Almost two years ago, though, we entered a new era. A freshman and a junior, not only did they both play varsity football and basketball, but due to being in a “rebuilding” year in both sports, they both had significant playing time. I can’t describe the feeling of seeing the younger throw a touchdown pass to the older. The older kick the extra point while his younger brother took the snap and held the ball. Or to watch one pass to the other for a lay-up or a jump shot, to watch the younger stare down a player on the other team who had fouled his brother or the older encourage the younger before a free throw.
Of course they aren’t perfect. Though they often supported each other on the field or court, they also fought some, too. Especially since the older tends to coach as he plays—and younger one is a perfectionist that doesn’t need to be told what he just did wrong. But even when they were at odds, I knew it wouldn’t last. A few hours later, they were back to teammates, trying to figure out how to get the next win.
I know it is time for the older one to move on to a college life that may or may not include basketball. But the next two years of watching our youngest son perform without his brother will feel strange. Not bad. Just different. So today I mourn the end of an era.
How do you deal with changes in the season of your life? What is an upcoming change you wish would hold off a little longer—or maybe one you wish would hurry up and arrive?